Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Can you apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems?

You may apply for Social Security disability (or SSI disability) on the basis of one health problem or many health problems. Functionality is the actual determining factor for Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits, meaning that the specific mental or physical impairment may not be as important as the limitations caused by the impairment.

In other words, how the conditions affect your ability to perform daily activities especially activities that are associated with work is more important than what your conditions are.

The definition of a disability for Social Security Disability or SSI purposes is as follows: a severe impairment, either physical or mental, that can be documented by medical evidence, or that has prevented your ability to perform work that is self supporting (SGA, or substantial gainful activity). Substantial gainful work activity is a monthly earnings amount that Social Security considers self-supporting.

As far as Social Security is concerned, a disability can be one medical condition or many medical conditions. However, disability applicants alleging disability on the basis of multiple health problems rather than a single severe physical impairment may have a harder time being approved for disability especially at their initial disability claim or reconsideration appeal.

Social Security uses a disability handbook that contains social security impairment listings for all body systems. These listings provide the criteria needed to meet the severity requirements of the Social Security disability or SSI program. If a person has a disabling condition that does meet or equal the criteria of an impairment listing, they may be approved for disability benefits. It is more difficult to be approved on the basis of multiple heath conditions or impairments that do not meet or equal the criteria of any impairment listing.

However, if you do not satisfy the requirements of a listing, you may still be approved for disability if your condition or conditions severely restrict your functional capacity. This occurs through a through a medical vocational allowance. Medical vocational allowances are based upon residual functional capacity, education, age, and the transferability of your job skills.

If your multiple health problems cause you to have a residual functional capacity that is so restricted that it prevents you from doing any of your past work or any other kind of work you may be approved for disability benefits.

In summary, you can most certainly apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems and be approved for disability benefits. However, it is a little more difficult to receive an approval for benefits especially at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels.

Usually, your chances of being approved for disability improve at a disability hearing. Administrative law judges are not strictly bound by the criteria outlined in the disability handbook. They are allowed more flexibility to interpret the vocational rules and the criteria outlined in the impairment listings of the disability guidebook.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

When does social security consider you eligible for disability benefits?
Who is eligible for SSI Disability?
Disability Criteria - Eligibility For Social Security and SSI Disability
Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?
Social Security Disability and SSI Mental Claims and Criteria
Can you apply for disability on the basis of multiple health problems?
What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?
Inability to Work and Eligibility for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?
If You Are Currently Working Are You Eligible To Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
Will Being A Veteran Affect Your Eligibility And Chances For Social Security Disability?
Are SSD and SSI disability cases decided the same way in terms of Eligibility?
Is the Medical Criteria to Get Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits hard?
Criteria for how Social Security Disability is Awarded
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria